A Word in Your Shell-Like: 6,000 curious and everyday phrases explained

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9780007155934: A Word in Your Shell-Like: 6,000 curious and everyday phrases explained

A complete guide to phrases in everyday life

A Word in your Shell-Like will be the ideal replacement or complement to that tatty old copy of Brewer's most of us have about the house: a modern, entertaining guide to the wonderful world of phrases, familiar and unfamiliar, a landmark publication by one of the key world authorities in English language reference. It is an entirely phrase-based book, exploring well-known phrases – catchphrases, slogans, idioms, cliches, nicknames, titles of books and films, and quotations. The articles will contain discussion of meaning, origin and usage. Sample entries include:

'but, miss – you're beautiful without your glasses'
'I must go down to the seas again'
'small, but perfectly formed'
'sold down the river’
‘abhors a vacuum’
‘all dressed up and nowhere to go’
‘and when did you last see your father?’
‘Anglo-Saxon attitudes’
‘another meal the Germans won’t have’
‘What did you do in the Great War, Daddy?’
‘by Grand Central Station I sat down and wept’
‘Burlington Bertie’

Few other word reference books are likely to increase your store of knowledge with such fun: find out of whom it was said: ’he couldn’t chew gum and fart at the same time’, who the ‘catcher in the rye’ was, and what it means to be ‘caught between wind and water’.

in your shell?like (ear). Phrase used when asking to have a 'quiet word' with someone: '(Let me have a word) in your ear' is all it means, but it makes gentle fun of a poetic simile. Thomas Hood's Bianca's Dream (1827) has: 'Her small and shell-like ear'. The Complete Naff Guide (1983) has 'a word in your shell-like ear' among 'naff things schoolmasters say'.

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Review:

‘a treasury of stimulating excursions and digressions in the English Language’

Ian Mayes, The Guardian, 2nd Oct. ‘04

‘There’s a lot of fascinating material here and the larger part of the book is unexceptionable, with much interesting information.’

Michael Quinion, World Wide Words, 2nd Oct. ‘04

About the Author:

Nigel Rees is regarded as one of the world authorities on English usage and is the author of over 50 reference books. His Radio 4 show, Quote… Unquote is one of the longest running quiz shows in the world (since 1974) and his newsletter has a wide and influential circulation.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Nigel Rees
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